I am always interested in what excuse someone is going to give for not being their best physically. There are some that are so common that they are almost considered “truths”. They include the excuses of, “I don’t have time to workout”, “It’s too expensive to eat healthy”, “I’m just big-boned” and my personal favorite is, “No matter what I do, I can’t lose weight.” Well, as long as you keep making up excuses, I would have to agree that weight loss is not possible.
The absolute very first thing you have to do in your quest to lose weight, get in shape and be the best you can be physically, is to be truly honest with yourself. I am not talking about the “I have just used the last piece of paper” honesty. I am referencing the “You have a big glob of black right between your front teeth” type of honesty. It’s the honesty we all want, but very few of us give. It is the tell-it-like-it-is honesty that moves us toward change. If you keep telling yourself that you are fine the way you are, then why would you ever want to change?
I know that some of you are reading this and asking why I would not promote being okay with yourself just the way you are. For the record, I am great with that. I think we should all love ourselves and be happy with who we are. However, that means being happy with who we truly are. If we are happy with the person that we promote ourselves to be, even though we are someone else completely, that is where I draw the line in self-love. In reality, you don’t love yourself if it’s not the real you that you are really loving.
So, how do we become honest with ourselves? First, you have to admit the behaviors that you have that are thwarting your health and fitness efforts. What do you do when you are alone with food? Do you steal a cookie from the tray only when no one is around because if no one sees you eat it, it didn’t happen? Do you go into the convenience store to purchase sweets and tell the cashier you are buying them for the “kids” that you don’t have or do have but don’t intend to share with? Have you ever thrown food away because it isn’t healthy only to have taken it back out of the garbage, wiped it off and felt relieved that it was still okay to eat? Yes? Then I am talking to you.
Now that you are at least admitting to these behaviors, write them down. This part is very important. We can lie to ourselves all day long and justify it, but writing down our behaviors helps hold us accountable. Like the saying, “If you find it on the Internet, then it must be true.” Well, if you write it down because it is one of your behaviors, then it must be reality. Don’t worry. I am not going to ask you to publish it in the local paper with your name in big, red, bold letters. In fact, I am not going to ask you to share it at all. This is a list strictly for your viewing. So, be honest. Include all of your behaviors that result in you feeling guilt or shame for your actions. Okay…go!
Once your list is complete, read through it and allow yourself to truly feel all of the emotions that go with these behaviors. Feel how you feel when you actually do them. My guess is that your list is bursting with guilt, shame, disparity, disgust and any other negative emotion you can add to the mix. Pretty bad, huh? Yet we continue to do this to ourselves…until now! Now is where it stops!
Ready for the next step? Next to each item that you have listed, write down something you can do next time you consider doing this behavior again. For instance, let’s say you have listed that when you are home alone, you stand at the fridge door and shovel food in like you haven’t eaten in weeks. You stuff and cram the food in your mouth to the point where you can’t even close your lips and you don’t even taste the food. You may decide that the next time you are ready to eat like this, you will sit with the food on a plate at the kitchen table and use utensils. While it is possible to still cram food in your mouth by using utensils at the kitchen table, it is less likely. The point is, take your behaviors that you want to change and give yourself alternatives. You don’t have to list just one alternative for each action. List two or list ten. The more options you give yourself, the more likely it is that you will make a different choice. Do this for each behavior you have written down.
When you are done, read over your list and all of the alternatives. How does the list look to you now? Are the negative feelings lessened and replaced by feelings of hope, optimism and empowerment? Do you have a renewed sense of strength and desire to change these behaviors? Good! You are on your way then!
Now you have to decide what to do with your list. If you are like me, you want to burn it, shred it or somehow completely maim it so that no one can tell what you wrote down. I understand that feeling. We are harsh enough in our self-judgments let alone giving someone else the opportunity to tear us apart. Plus, there is a cleansing factor to watching your undesirable behaviors be shred into pieces or go up in smoke. It’s like a new beginning.
If keeping the list around is going to make you anxious and worried, it is not worth it. If, however, you want to be able to reference the list and have a private, safe place to keep it then that is great. You can pull out the list and review it from time to time. Heck, you could retain your list in code so that only you know what it says. Think I’m kidding? Not so much. Do whatever it takes because you are worth it!
Or, if you are ready to truly make a huge change, go way outside your comfort zone and post the list where others can see it. Keep a copy on your desk at work. Post it on your fridge at home. Go wild and crazy and give it to a trustworthy friend. Repent your sins and cleanse your soul. Completely acknowledge your behaviors, rid yourself of hidden guilt and shame and walk headfirst into reality ready to change your destiny! Not quite ready for this step? Then quietly say good-bye to your list as the shredder lightly hums while it cuts your secrets into tiny shreds and puts your old behaviors where they belong…in the recycle bin.